Skip to main content

Full text of "The History Of Western Education"

See other formats


of becoming an educator of children whose country he would
not defend with his blood or his life."* Finally he set up school
on his own lines in a peasant's cottage at Keilhau in Thuringia,
his own native State. In this school, which in pretentious terms
that revealed his aggressive, nationalism he designated the
" Universal German Educational Institute," he undertook the
education of children by means of a comprehensive curriculum,
which included " religion, reading, writing, arithmetic, drawing,
the German language, singing, mathematics, nature knowledge,
• geography, Greek, piano, and physical exercises," In 1826, he
published the one formal exposition of his doctrines in an in-
complete book called The Education of Man, and two years later
he drew up a plan for a national educational institute, destined
never to be established, in which he presented his ideas in greater
practical detail. It was not till 1836 that he turned definitely to
the education of young children before the ordinary school age
with which his name will always be associated. In 1840, he
opened the first Kindergarten—the Universal German Kinder-
garten he called it—and from that time forward his life was
spent in elaborating the principles and methods on which it was
based. One of the fruits of his experience in this work was an
admirable book for the home, entitled Mother and Nursery Songs >
published three years after the institution of the Kindergarten,
The movement made good progress in Germany for a time, but
a reactionary Minister of Education arrested it by prohibiting
kindergartens in 1851. A year later Froebel himself died.

The dominant idea in the philosophy which underlies all his
educational work is the unity of all things in God. " In all things
there lives and reigns an eternal law," begins the Education of
Man. " All things live and have their being in and through God,
the divine unity. All things exist only through the divine effluence
in them." Differences are never absolute: there is always
connection somewhere, if only it can be discovered. Hence the
satisfaction with which Froebel found himself able (as he wrongly
imagined) to reduce all crystal forms to the basic form of the
cube, and noted a fundamental identity of type in bird and man.
Hence again his assurance that the highest spiritual laws of the
universe are symbolized by the phenomena of animate and
inanimate nature: that almost in a literal sense, there are

* Autobiography, English translation, p. 90.